Best place to eat with family


Janson McNair

Emily King (left) and Alexa Snyder (right) having lunch at Mike’s Place, which is located at 1700 S. Water St.

Addison Foreman, Reporter

FIRST: Mike’s Place

With an X-Wing outside, a boat inside and a room dedicated to Elvis Presley, Mike’s Place gives customers plenty of things to look at – including a multiple-page menu. 

“Anything from the bus that you can eat in, the full-size Jaws boat, the castle, there’s a lot,” manager Cody Kostensky said. “It’s a very family-friendly place. There’s so many things to look at. It’s not really a bar scene, it’s more of a sit-down restaurant. Kids can walk around and look at stuff.”

Mike’s Place offers all-day breakfast, burgers, pizza and vegetarian options. 

There are sandwiches, dinner and all-day breakfast options on its kid’s menu available for children 12 years old and younger. All kids’ menu options are under $8, and kids can choose to order a personal pizza, spaghetti, mac-n-cheese and a few other options.

“There’s nowhere else like it,” Kostensky said. “It’s one of a kind. Every day we have people from out of state and from all over just to check us out.”

SECOND: Ray’s Place

Ray’s Place is a bar and grill that opened in Kent in 1937, and people have stopped by to watch a big game, eat a bowl of chili or drink a beer for generations.  

“It’s been around a long time,” owner Charlie Thomas said. “A lot of Kent State students, from ‘37 until now, go here. Some of the kids here now, their parents went here, their grandparents went here, and I think their grandparents went here to Kent State and went to Ray’s.”

On the “Kid’s Korner” section of the menu, children 12 years old and under can choose from burgers, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and kids mac-n-cheese bites, among other options. 

Ray’s Place also serves a variety of salad, soup, sandwich and dessert options, in addition to other dinner options and a long alcohol list. 

“I think people just feel comfortable here,” Thomas said. “They walk in, they see other people their age, because any given day, during the daytime period, you see people in here from babies to college students, to doctors, to lawyers, you name it. Everybody just feels comfortable.”

Since the restaurant has been around for so long, Thomas said Ray’s is an essential place to bring your family when visiting the Kent area.

“If you haven’t been to Ray’s, you haven’t been to Kent,” Thomas said.

THIRD: Panini’s Bar & Grille

Panini’s Bar and Grille, which originated in Cleveland in 1986, opened 10 years ago in Kent. 

The spot has a “great ambience,” according to front of house assistant manager Jacob Klemm.

Panini’s was nominated for “Best Place to take your Family to Eat.” Panini’s is located at 295 S. Water St. (Emma Van Winkle) 

“We have a lot of TVs, everybody has a chance to watch whatever they’d like to watch,” Klemm said. “We have cheap drinks, great food, good specials and we always try to have something that brings customers in, like trivia night.”

Children aged 12 and under can choose from cheeseburgers, mac-n-cheese, corn dogs and other options on the kids menu. All kid’s menu choices except pizza include a side of either fries or mandarin oranges. 

The restaurant cooks up overstuffed panini sandwiches, all with fries, signature slaw, tomato and melted provolone inside. Other menu options include soups, salads, wings and wraps. 

“We have more of a family vibe,” Klemm said. “It’s quaint, it’s not too college ‘crazy party’ situation, but we can accommodate all guests.”

Addison Foreman is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].